You can’t argue with a dollar, but I can say that if this issue wasn’t a dollar I wouldn’t pick it up. This was one of the strangest first issues I’ve ever read and it was 100% because of the structure of the story and mostly the dialogue. I’m not going to bash it or anything since it’s still a pretty average issue, but there was a lot about it that could have been different. The story begins on a faraway planet long before the dawn of man. Two alien races are fighting each other in the nude and the narration tells us that neither side is winning. One side is ant looking red people with four arms, while the other side is silver looking bug people with two arms. They’ve been fighting each other to a stalemate for a while and nothing seems to tip the scales. It takes six pages to get through this opening and the narration is very dry. I started speed reading it because I quickly discovered that I was not going to be emerged into the narrative, but rather fighting to hold my attention on the book.
After that we meet a couple by the name of Jesse and Will… we don’t learn their names until after spending six pages with them and I’m counting the reveal page since it’s factually the last panel on the page. They’re a cute couple I guess. They were a bit too “on” for me to really like them. The thing is that they’re dialogue is believable, but they’re either cutesy or sexual with anything they say. It’s like everything you’d say to your significant other in the course of a week crammed into one conversation that never seems to end. The worst part is that the only time they’re in bed is when they’re waking up to go to work.
They’re moving from Chicago to Turtle Creek Minnesota. The only guess I have on this is because Jesse is original from here and they’re helping with her parents business. The rest of the issue is basically spent with them just living life and while it’s not terrible it strangely cuts out ever thing that would see our characters not being cute and in love. For instance Will is about to ride home with Jesse’s father and she mentions that it’s a good opportunity for them to spend some quality time. In any other story, when the words “quality time” is said or spoken you end up following those two characters. I literally sighed, but when I turned the page the story had flash forward to Jesse and Will relaying to us how horny they are… again. I’m not complaining that it skipped father-in-law time, but then don’t draw attention to it.
The story ends on a huge cliffhanger which will dramatically change the landscape of the series which left me feeling cheated by everything I read. It means that everything here isn’t really relevant and that we’re going to have to be reintroduced to the story all over again in the next issue. I understand the overall point of this issue, which is to give us some insight into Jesse’s story so that we care when she’s plucked from her normal life; but I think I would rather them go the flashback route and just sprinkle in important moments between the couple as needed rather than just getting it all out-of-the-way.
The art is very good, but there are moments when it stumbles. Jesse’s hair is stuck in the 90’s as far as the style is concerned, but it’s not a big deal considering she’s rocking a ponytail to begin with. The problem comes when she’s not wearing the ponytail. She either has a ton of hair or she’s constantly wearing a “Bump-it” because it well surpassed her skull. What’s worse is that the coloring noticeably shifts as well and stays like that throughout the rest of the issue. Her once golden blonde hair is now a dirty blonde that more accurately matches Will’s. Later on there’s a bright light that’s shined on her and it made me wonder if they dulled it so that you wouldn’t be confused when you got to this point in the story. The details where great and the body language of the characters was very strong, but the hair is something a lot of comic fans pay attention to and this issue shined a light in my eye and asked me to follow it.
Again for a buck you can’t argue with it and other than the hair, I really liked the art. It was some of the best that Aspen has produced in recent memory, but it wasn’t strong enough to make up for the flaws in the story. I’m not thrilled about the second issue basically being the true first issue and honestly if you skipped this issue I don’t think you’d be lost by starting on the next.
Writer: Frank Mastromauro
Artist: Marco Lorenzana
Colorist: Wes Hartman
Publisher: Aspen Comics
Release Date: 8/28/13